Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/280

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272
THE ORYX.

and on the banks of a tributary to the Swakop. On reaching the foot of that picturesque chain of mountains extending in a northerly direction from Eikhams toward Schmelen's Hope, where it terminates rather abruptly, we encountered great numbers of the oryx, which afforded us excellent sport.

 

 

CHAPTER XXII.

The Oryx; more than one Species.—Where found.—Probably known in Europe previous to the discovery of the Passage round the Cape of Good Hope.—Description of the Oryx.—Gregarious.—Speed.—Food.—Water not necessary to its existence.—Will face the Lion.—Formidable Horns.—Their Use.—Flesh.—The Chase of this Animal.

Three distinct species of oryxes[1] are recognized by naturalists, ranging over a great extent of the more desert and thinly-peopled districts of Africa. In the northern part of the continent the type is represented by the leucoryx,[2] which strikingly resembles the oryx or gemsbok (oryx capensis), of which the accompanying drawing is an excellent representation.

The gemsbok (so called by the Dutch from a supposed resemblance to the chamois of Europe) seems restricted to the central and western parts of Southern Africa, few or none being found in its eastern portion. It was once common within the colony, but what with its shy habits, the

  1. Oryx capensis, oryx beisa, and oryx leucoryx.
  2. The numerous engravings of the leucoryx on the sculptures of Egypt clearly indicate that this animal was well known to the nations inhabiting the valley of the Nile. It was chosen as an emblem, but whether as a good or evil symbol is uncertain, though some modern writers seem in favor of the former opinion. The wealthy Egyptians kept a great number of this antelope in a tame state, but it does not appear to have been considered a sacred animal. Indeed, it was indiscriminately sacrificed to the gods, and slaughtered for the table.